Sunday, March 28, 2010


I am a Christian. My religion is Christianity.

Uttering these words may immediately bring to your mind all kinds of negative thoughts. I admit that in the name of Christianity and religion, many atrocities have been committed.

I don’t criticize you for thinking these thoughts. Instead, I ask you to be patient with me and read further.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for I know in my heart that it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16a).

This means that I love all people. I admit that I don’t like all people, but I will never shy away from showing them the love that God shows me through His Son Jesus Christ.

This “love” that I’m talking about should not be thought of as a romantic kind of love. It goes so far beyond that as to be unrecognizable as romantic love.

It is a passionate love, however. My love for all others is tied to the passionate love of Jesus Christ.

The passionate love of Jesus Christ moved him to ride a donkey on this day (Sunday) nearly 2000 years ago. He rode on a donkey into the city of Jerusalem. People lined the street and shouted at him. They knew that Jesus was very special. They knew that Jesus had a new and different kind of love for people.

Five days later, Jesus would show the world the full extent of his love (John 13:1, NIV).

Jesus would take on the servant role and wash his disciples’ feet. He said that he came to serve and not be served (Matthew 20:28 ESV). He then took the Passover bread and wine and tied them to his death by saying “This is my body…this is my blood.” He suffers the punishment allotted for transgressing God’s Law. Not because he sinned, but because we sinned. Jesus loves us so much that he took the punishment we deserved. Jesus died on a cross and rose from the dead three days later (Easter) to give us abundant (John 10:10) and eternal (John 3:16) life.

I know this love of Jesus in my heart and in my life. This is my religion. This is what it means for me to be a Christian. I don’t want to criticize anyone. I don’t want the death of any sinner. I want to show the love of Jesus Christ to everyone I meet.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Grace and Truth

Should a Christian speak with grace? Or should a Christian speak the truth?

Is it an “either or” question?

Why can’t a Christian do both? Why can’t a Christian speak the truth gracefully? Of course, many many Christians actually do. So, what I really mean is, why can’t I always speak the truth full of grace?

Speaking the truth is hard enough. But to speak it with grace, too?

Speaking the truth is hard because so many people don’t live according to the truth. And so many people don’t live according to the same truth.

If I speak the truth – God’s Truth – to people who are not living according to that Truth they tend to not thank me for enlightening them.

But Jesus did this! What is the difference in how He did it and how I do it?

The Samaritan Woman that Jesus conversed with at Jacob’s Well is a good example. Here’s a woman who’s been married 5 times and divorced or widowed five times. She’s given up on marriage and is now living with a man outside the blessing of marriage.

But Jesus doesn’t confront her with this, not right away. There’s a clue for me. Jesus first establishes contact, discusses simple things that, of course, are not so simple. Jesus is able to get this woman to open up about what she really wants. By the time Jesus gets to the hard truth, she’s able to hear it as filled with grace. And because of the Grace and Truth, she’s saved!

There’s also some comfort in knowing that there wasn’t always as positive a result.

Nothing could be filled with more grace and truth than Jesus’ conversation with the rich young man in Mark 10. They are talking about serious things – salvation! They get to the same place – God’s Will. But Jesus takes him to the ultimate place – leaving everything behind and following him. But I note a major item in this story. Mark records, “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him….” Jesus loved him. Grace with the Truth.

The first step is to know this first step. It isn’t enough – it isn’t Christ-like – to just speak the Truth to people. To be truly Christ-like, we must, as St. Paul says, “Speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).

Knowing this is the first step in doing this.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Be still sad heart and cease repining;
Behind the clouds the sun is shining,
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life a little rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When the world was young apparently there was no rain. Genesis reports that the land was watered by a mist and the rivers.

Then God created man and woman. Soon after man and woman rebelled and infected their descendents with sin.

Several chapters later in Genesis, rain is falling for forty days and forty nights.

I’m NOT saying that rain is a result of sin. But rain falls into a world infected by sin.

Rain is usually neutral and will not be good nor bad but will affect was it falls on in a negative or positive way.

How it affects a person can depend on the mood of that person.

There are times when I am in a contemplative mood and I love to sit on my patio with a cup of hot tea and listen to the rain fall (while sitting under a roof, not actually in the rain itself, getting wet).

But there are times like today that rain was not welcomed – sitting in the bleachers watching my son play baseball, having his team go ahead of their rivals on a grand slam homerun and then the rain coming down in buckets.

Longfellow’s poem tells us something interesting: behind the clouds the sun is shining.

No matter how bad life gets, the sun is shining.

No matter how bad life gets, the Son is shining.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sleepless Nights

Lately my wife and I haven’t been getting a lot of sleep. Our middle son suffers from seizures and they almost always happen while he’s asleep – either within an hour of falling asleep or an hour or two before he has to get up for school.
It’s a tough thing to try to sleep and listen for him at the same time. I’ve noticed that there are a LOT of noises in a house during the night – from wind blowing branches against the outside wall to the ice maker dumping cubes and filling up with water again.

There are a lot of things that can keep you up at night. You could be worrying about how you’re going to make the next tuition payment for your child’s school. You could be worrying over a failing business. You could be worrying – like me – about your kid’s illness.

I’m not going to tell you not to worry. You shouldn’t – the Bible says that – but I know that you will because I will and do!

But that doesn’t make it right. So let me tell you this: When you are lying awake in the middle of the night, you are not alone. Jesus Christ is there with you!

In Mark 6:45-52 is the story of Jesus sending the disciples into a late night storm that He could easily have prevented. The disciples were straining at the oars most of the night. Then Jesus appeared around 3:00 a.m. and told them to take courage and not be afraid, and the wind died down. The disciples exclaimed, "Truly you are the Son of God." There are some things about Jesus that we just learn better in the middle of the night. His deity is magnified. We notice that He can see us in the dark. He sees us in our storms. Patrick Morley of Man in the Mirror Ministries says, “Yet He is just as likely to leave us in our storms longer than we would like. Why? Because He is sovereignly orchestrating all human events to bring us into right relationship with Him and right relationship with each other. When we cry out to Him, He does rescue us—but usually not in the way for which we had prayed.”

That might help you sleep a little better, knowing that Christ is there with you in the middle of the night and He’s working through whatever you are worrying about and “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).


Here it is, already March! One of my 2010 New Year’s resolutions was to read through the Bible in a year. I’ve been using the “Chronological” reading plan from and it has been working pretty well. I’ve already read through the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Job. Working through Numbers right now. There was a nice little surprise in this morning’s reading. Psalm 90! It is a Psalm written by Moses right around the time of Number 14-15. In it, Moses puts into poetry how he feels about God. He doesn’t pull any punches. God is too awesome to understand. When God says that there are consequences to sin, to disobeying Him, He really means it.

Today, this rubs a lot of people the wrong way. God should be merciful, they reason. He shouldn’t punish people for sinning. What? Where does that come from? I suspect it comes from the parenting choices that many people are the product of today. So many parents – at best – don’t know how to discipline a child so they simply don’t. There is no consequence to disobedience in a lot of homes today. That translates into a cry of “unfair” when a just and lawful society says that there are consequences to driving over the speed limit, not paying your taxes, driving drunk, cheating on your spouse, and engaging in behavior that is bad for your health.

When we do something that is against the law, against the rules, or bad for our health, there are consequences. That’s what God was telling His people who were traveling from Egypt to the Promised Land. If you do what I command – which you promised to do, by the way – then I will continue to bless you! But if you disobey my commands, then I must punish you.

Sin leads to punishment. But if you’ve heard that God is merciful, then you need to understand that God accepted the ultimate price for our sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus did what we couldn’t do. He kept God’s Law perfectly and still paid the price for transgressing the Law – in our place! That doesn’t mean there are not consequences today – there certainly are. But thanks to Jesus Christ we will not pay the price eternally. Through His forgiveness, there is a new heaven and a new earth being prepared for us by Jesus Christ Himself. Today we have the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and pass on to the next generation a new way to live – in the blessing of God. But there will come a time when the consequences will be no more, and for those who have faith in Jesus Christ as savior, a time is coming where there will be no more pain or sorrow.